Top 8 Barriers Preventing More People from Walking and Biking in Arlington County

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Erin Potter Tweet Us @BikeArlington@BikeArlington November 1, 2017

Erin Potter is the Events and Outreach Coordinator for BikeArlington. She appreciates Arlington’s low-stress street and trail network, which allows her to get places easily by bike.

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Arlington County was recently named “America’s Most Walkable Suburb” and, in general, 53% of adults would like to ride a bike more; but, what holds people back from actually taking a walk or using two wheels? Dig into our findings to understand these personal barriers.

With Arlington County forecasting a population growth of almost 40% by 2045, we love seeing commuting by bike and walking on the rise. However, there are still those with hesitation.

To uncover existing perceptions and explore personal barriers about adding walking and biking into daily routines, we partnered with BikeArlington and Mobility Lab to conduct a series of focus groups.

Let’s Talk Barriers

Two key barriers resonated for most participants:

  1. Disregard for Traffic Laws by Walkers, Bicyclists, or Drivers

“I frequently have to wait awhile for cars to let me cross at crosswalks,” a female participant noted. “I also know specific intersections where cars tend to run the red lights or not look boths ways when they’re rolling to a stop.”

Between a driver’s rolling stops and pedestrian-crossing neglect to red-light running and rush-hour impatience, considering an active transportation trip by walking or biking had our focus group participants a bit hesitant. On another note, participants also addressed concerns with pedestrians crossing mid-block and bicyclists not coming to a complete stop at stop signs.

  1. Lack of Access to a Comfortable, Straightforward Route

“If there were consistent bike paths on roads that are sectioned off separately from car lanes,” a female participant expressed, “I would be much more likely to ride a bike consistently.”  

Focus group participants agreed current conditions for walking and biking vary throughout Arlington County—with certain neighborhoods being walk- and bike-friendly and others largely unconnected from each other. Columbia Pike, Walter Reed, and I-395 were mentioned by participants as significant barriers.

Other stressors included:

  • Concerns of a sidewalk or bike lane’s condition (ie., potholes, faded road markings, uneven or narrow sidewalks).
  • Uncomfortable sharing the road with cars.

Top 8 Personal Barriers

Infographic displaying the top 8 walking and biking barriers in Arlington County.
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